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  • Tue, 24, Mar, 2020 - 5:00:AM

I get tired of shallow feminists

Let me start by saying this: there’s nothing a feminist could do to halt my belief in the rights of women.

That being said, sometimes I get mega tired of feminists.

Not all feminists. Hell, not even the majority. But there are a certain strain among this group who, let’s just say, aren’t functioning on the deepest political level.

As is the case for a lot of white women, feminism was my first major foray into political thinking. I must have been around thirteen when I took notice of the term in an active way. Quickly, I studied up on Gloria Steinem, though, to be fair, in a fairly simplistic capacity. This was around 2007, feminism wasn’t term du jour the way it is now, and I had little to no money. I wasn’t about to spend my measly chores-based income on dense feminist texts. It was enough to read a few quotes online and print off this photo of Steinem and Dorothy Pitman-Hughes for my ring-binder. But the concepts I did take on board, I took extremely seriously. Women were oppressed at every level by an all-consuming patriarchy. I didn’t know what to do about it, but it certainly pissed me off.

Some years later came internet feminism. Suddenly there was a boom of feminist Facebook groups in which members would share sexist screenshots with the caption: sigh. The goal was commiseration, but the result was frustration. And it became less about the liberation of women as a political entity, and more about the minutiae of sexist behaviour online. It was during this time that everything a famous woman did besides literally being a doormat was somehow radically feminist.

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It was also the peak of “feminism is just”. Feminism is just about treating women equally. It’s just about protecting women. Just, just, just – our radical feminist foremothers must have rolled their eyes at our meekness.   

Gone were the demands, gone was the protest. Gone was any real mention of class.

The truth is that feminism cannot exist as a singularity – it must co-exist with other philosophies. It must be actively anti-racist. It must recognize class disparities. It must never become complacent with the gains of some women – especially as that group tends to consist of the most privileged among us. It must consistently agitate.  

The type of feminism I enjoyed at age 13 was of a general ‘girl power’ variety. It didn’t consciously consider the disparities that existed between different groups of women. It didn’t consciously challenge capitalism. In essence, it was white feminism. It was girl boss feminism. It was ‘that’s problematic’ feminism.

The feminists who get my goat are those who still exist in this realm. Naturally, that group is going to consist of folks who possess the markers of privilege. Those of us who start off in the shallow end of the pool are those of us who can afford to. Put it this way: if the focus of your feminism is putting a woman in the White House, you probably don’t face much real economic adversity.   

Not to say putting a woman in the White House (and in other positions of political power) isn’t a worthy goal; it’s one that I share, but it mustn’t come at the expense of revolutionary politics in the interest of the oppressed.

In the end, positions of power are ultimately symbolic. If our feminism is going to mean anything, it must centre the lives of the voiceless many, not the power of the privileged few.

TAGGED IN

  • Feminism /
  • Politics /
  • Womanhood /
  • Gloria Steinem /
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Abigail
Johnson

Regular Contributor All Articles